Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mindful Movements

So you’ve taken a yoga class... that doesn’t mean you know how to teach yoga.

I’m taking Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. In the first few weeks we were taught how to do a body scan and how to do breath-based meditation.  I’ve meditated for over 20 years.  These instructions were valid and valuable.

This week, a student-teacher lead our class in about 25 minutes of what she said was yoga. Her first instruction was “Get into Rest Pose.”

Yipes!  “Rest Pose!”

First of all she presumed that everybody in the room knew what she meant.  She never described the pose, or how to get into it. And second she thought that baby-talk was appropriate.  There is no such thing as “Rest Pose.”  If you want to be delicate, you could call it “Final Rest Pose.”  The real name is “Corpse Pose.”  Or if you want to be formal “Shivasana.”

The session got worse from there.  Her descriptions, when she bothered to give them, weren’t clear, so I had to keep sitting up to watch her.  She never described where to relax, where to focus the mind.  This is supposed to be “mindful movement.”  Yoga is indeed mindful movement.  All she had was a series of positions with minimal explanation. 

I get it that a beginning yoga student may perceive a class like that.  

This woman is studying to become a Mindfulness teacher.  She knows she must study in order to teach Mindfulness.   Why does she think she can teach yoga, without learning how?

I tried to talk about this with the main teacher.  She was, understandably, protective of her student.  She suggested I try the recordings available on the class website.  

I already do yoga every day.  I don’t feel the need for a recording.  But any program that would allow an unqualified teacher in a live situation needs to rethink yoga as part of their curriculum.

I went to youtube and found a video by Thich Nhat Hanh showing mindful movements that do not involve yoga:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCUyf-IPP0Q

And here’s a reminder sheet, for printing:  http://www.parallax.org/pdf/10MindfulMovements.pdf

I get it that folks who want to teach Mindfulness may not also wish to become certified yoga teachers.   They should either hire certified yoga teachers for that portion of the class, or teach different movements.  Yoga has no monopoly on mindful movements. 

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